Rotten Tomatoes
Cancel Movies Tv shows Shop News Showtimes

Secret Agent

Released Jun 15, 1936 1h 26m Mystery & Thriller List
87% Tomatometer 23 Reviews 47% Audience Score 2,500+ Ratings
British intelligence fakes the death of Edgar Brodie (John Gielgud) to send him on a mission in Switzerland, where as Richard Ashendon he is to locate and kill a Germany spy. Accompanying Brodie are fellow agents Elsa Carrington (Madeleine Carroll), who is to play Brodie's wife, and an eccentric assassin known as The General (Peter Lorre). Locating the spy on a train, Brodie and Elsa have second thoughts about their mission just as an American (Robert Young) ingratiates himself with them. Read More Read Less

Where to Watch

Secret Agent

Prime Video

Rent Secret Agent on Prime Video, or buy it on Prime Video.

Critics Reviews

View All (23) Critics Reviews
Dave Kehr Chicago Reader The film has a fine cast and a fine look -- shot in the Swiss Alps, much of it makes use of unusual white-on-white compositions. Jun 3, 2015 Full Review TIME Magazine Directed by England's pudgy master of melodrama, Alfred Hitchcock, Secret Agent is a first-rate sample of his knack of achieving speed by never hurrying, horror by concentrating on the prosaic. Jun 3, 2015 Full Review Michael Sragow New Yorker One of the weirdest movies Alfred Hitchcock ever made. Sep 17, 2012 Full Review Roger Moore Movie Nation A goofy premise, a couple of seriously screwy characters and some of the wittiest dialogue ever to grace a Hitchock thriller. Rated: 3/4 Dec 18, 2023 Full Review Ann Ross Maclean's Magazine Good British spy thriller. Aug 8, 2019 Full Review Josephine O'Neill Daily Telegraph (Australia) In spite of many brilliant touches Alfred Hitchcock's third film is disappointing. The British producer fails to establish that tense atmosphere of The Man Who Knew Too Much" and The 39 Steps. Mar 15, 2019 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (124) audience reviews
Steve D Nothing special despite the talent. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 01/07/24 Full Review Josh G This film is full of elements that make later and earlier Hitchcock films pop, trains, the wrong man trope and decent recurring cast. But it feels like I've seen it before even though I haven't until now, weakest of the Hitchcock films. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 05/03/23 Full Review Dick C All my credits go to my favourite director, Alfred Hitchcock... Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/09/23 Full Review Audience Member This film's lack of focus and clumsiness is revealed in the very first scene, at what is supposed to be Ashenden's funeral. A one-armed vet politely receives the visitors, then, once alone, he VERY awkwardly (yes, he's one-armed, but still!) pulls the coffin onto the floor to reveal that it is empty. But if he knew it was empty, then why pull it down? Does he have a kinky thing about upending closed coffins to see what's inside? This scene lacks any of Hitchcock's stylish subtlety, and looks, along with rest of the film, cursory and rushed, like it was being cranked out quickly to satisfy the studio's wish to cash in on the success of 39 Steps and The Man Who Knew Too Much. The best actors from both of those hits were brought into this project, except Robert Donat cancelled due to health problems, and John Gielgud was his last-minute--and seriously inappropriate--replacement. The sparkle that Donat would have provided is totally absent in Shakespearean actor Gielgud, who is playing a sober stage Hamlet in the midst of scene-stealing movie actors. And Gielgud is tepidly unconvincing in his love scenes with sexy Madeleine Carroll--does this man ever get excited about anything? We are made to feel very badly about the wrong, decent, man getting killed, but then Lorre cancels our viewers' guilt by laughing his head off at the irony, and the film soon returns to the fun of finding and exterminating the real bad boy. Odd stuff. The 'clue' that leads the duo of assassins to their man is snatched out of thin air--Lorre randomly seduces a woman whose fiance 'just happens' to be the local contact communicating with the evil agent they're after. Really? Another sign that this was a rush job for quick profits and Hitchcock just didn't give a damn. Then there's the scene where Lorre inexplicably hands their dying murderous enemy his gun(!) and gets shot dead with it, apparently with the purpose of giving The General a chance to say his final goodbye to the audience. After all, Lorre has once again stolen Hitch's film, and deserves a proper sendoff. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 01/13/23 Full Review georgan g This early Hitchcock film is engaging, but the accents, other languages, uneven sound & camera work means it's not my favorite. Guess this was b4 Hitch made cameo appearances, so that fun wasn't there. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member "Secret Agent" is off to a good start, introducing the premise from the get-go and hopefully employing the unexpected but welcome occasional lighthearted atmosphere of the first scenes as a good contrasting precursor to the action. However (a few mildly suspenseful sequences excluded), what comes next holds almost no thrills. Moreover, the few dramatic and romantic moments come out of the blue, Lorre is annoyingly over-the-top as a repugnant sleazebag and the ending escalates puzzlingly fast. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/11/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Secret Agent

My Rating

Read More Read Less POST RATING WRITE A REVIEW EDIT REVIEW

Cast & Crew

The 39 Steps 96% 86% The 39 Steps The Woman Alone 92% 69% The Woman Alone The Man Who Knew Too Much 89% 67% The Man Who Knew Too Much Notorious 96% 91% Notorious The Lady Vanishes 98% 88% The Lady Vanishes Discover more movies and TV shows. View More

Movie Info

Synopsis British intelligence fakes the death of Edgar Brodie (John Gielgud) to send him on a mission in Switzerland, where as Richard Ashendon he is to locate and kill a Germany spy. Accompanying Brodie are fellow agents Elsa Carrington (Madeleine Carroll), who is to play Brodie's wife, and an eccentric assassin known as The General (Peter Lorre). Locating the spy on a train, Brodie and Elsa have second thoughts about their mission just as an American (Robert Young) ingratiates himself with them.
Director
Alfred Hitchcock
Producer
Michael Balcon, Ivor Montagu
Distributor
Stokey Video, New Century Telecommunications Inc., Gaumont British Picture Corporation, LS Video, Criterion Collection
Production Co
Gaumont British Picture Corporation Ltd.
Genre
Mystery & Thriller
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Jun 15, 1936, Wide
Release Date (Streaming)
Jan 19, 2017
Runtime
1h 26m
Sound Mix
Mono
Most Popular at Home Now